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Taking One On The Shin

Before he dug in for a first-inning at bat yesterday, first baseman Nick Johnson had actually become one of Washington's most durable players. He had started 65 of the team's 70 games, and appeared in 69 of them. (So much for Manny Acta's preseason promise to take it easy with Nick.) His injury history no longer framed every little moment on the field -- every full-tilt swing, every awkward stolen base attempt, every slide into home. Gotta admit, during the early part of the year, I followed Johnson every time he did these things, almost waiting for the inevitable hammy tweak or back strain.

But it never happened.

By yesterday's game, Johnson's fragility was nearly out of my short-term memory.

Now his ability (or lack thereof) to recover will get its first 2009 test, and how Johnson responds will go a long way to determining 1.) the functionality of Washington's lineup and fielding and 2.) Washington's capacity to trade Johnson before the deadline.

Watch this video. Of all the impressive things that happened during last night's game (especially Jordan Zimmermann's pitching performance), nothing made a more memorable impression than the 0-1 John Smoltz pitch that Johnson took on the shin. Just amazing: Seconds after the HBP, the swelling had already started. Close-ups of Johnson's left shin reminded me of some sort of nature show where a reptile has just swallowed a massive mammal and you're left to gawk at the shape of something vaguely hideous and familiar extruding from within.

The team is initially listing Johnson, with a left shin contusion, as day-to-day. If he's back within a few days, then there's no reason to worry. The Nats can use him, then trade him. But, if Johnson's injury lingers -- just like the leg injury, or the wrist injury -- then the Nationals just took a serious blow. They lose his .310 average and his .437 slugging percentage. They must play Adam Dunn at first base, further weakening a defense that already has few capable parts. They also forfeit their most tradable commodity -- a rental player with a reasonable salary whose clubhouse presence (quiet, respected) and offensive skill make him an attractive fit for numerous contenders.

With Johnson, you can only wait it out. Earlier in his career, initial prognoses have underestimated -- somebody by, oh, a full year -- how much time he'll miss. This injury certainly doesn't seem as serious as others. The Nats have their fingers crossed that Johnson, countering his track record, can recover quickly.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 26, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's Lineups, and Michael Jackson

Comments

I was telling a fellow as we left the park laswt night that he had the best t-shirt of all - Nick's. What a wonderful player and what a wonderful game! When the Jays were in town, I saw Scott Rolen talking to Nick on 1st. I wondered what Nick was thinking, since Rolen insisted on leaving Philly becasue he could not stomach Larry Bowa (Nick's uncle) as manager, and the Phillies fired Bowa the next year. Why trade Nick? If we were going to sign Tex to a long-term deal, why not consider signing Nick to an apporpriate deal? Why cntinue the Expo's tradition of serving as a minor league club for any contender who comes along? Unless Larry Beinfest is making the trade, they never seem to work, and winning fills the Park. Aren't we close enough to consider keeping Nick?

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm hoping that Manny and the trainer pulled Nick after he hobbled going from first to third during the bottom of the First.

Of course, Nick lost a LOTTA time in year one when he stepped on Zaun's foot [which meaninglessly blocked the plate]. I hope somebody drills Zaun again today, and every day for eternity.

But I digress.

They HAVE to trade Nick, as sad as I'll be to see him go. Therefore, he HAS to get better.

Or I'll cry.

Posted by: mistermuleboy | June 26, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

re-reading my post, I am now wondering whether somebody drilled ME. . . .

it makes no sense.

Anyway, considering Nick Johnson's history, mister harlan, you are right to wonder.

Posted by: mistermuleboy | June 26, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Stan the Plan had little or nothing to do with hiring Bobby Cox. He obviously has no clue about baseball. He's a spinmeister, well suited to Washington. He'd be a bust anywhere else..

I think I saw the Cubs and White Sox are on TV tonight. Two well-coached teams going at it.

Our choices in DC come down to watching (or paying to watch) one well-coached team (visitors). So WGN tonight offers a two-fer.

Posted by: JohnRDC | June 26, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Father Flynniegan

Welcome home.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 26, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Second that, leetee.

I remember that Jays-Nats game, mrmuleboy. Didn't Frank call Nick out later for trying to avoid running over the catcher?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Letee and 1a! What a week of improbable, giddy, joyous mornings after unlikely wins!

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"He's a spinmeister, well suited to Washington. He'd be a bust anywhere else.."

Yes, he was a total abject failure over, what, two decades in Atlanta? So he didn't hire Bobby Cox in the first place. He re-hired him, many, many times. He knows enough to keep hold of someone who's worth keeping.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 26, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

A very nice game from the kid Zimmermann, and reason for some Nats optimism. As today's Globe pointed out, before last night, Pedroia in almost 400 career games had only once (Phil Hughes, last season) been K'd twice in one game by one pitcher. Zimmermann became the second.

Rough first inning from Smoltz, but he settled in nicely thereafter. I'm looking forward to his progression and especially his opportunities in the postseason.

Really enjoyed the ballpark and am looking forward to catching some more games there.

Posted by: DPAlexandria | June 26, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Having once again been Bergmanned for the third time in three years, Smoltz has a hat trick from rookie Nats pitchers - Bergmann, Lannan, and Zimmermann.

Posted by: Traveler8 | June 26, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

We should take 2 out of 3 from the Orioles.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 26, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"We should take 2 out of 3 from the Orioles."

That's what scares me.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | June 26, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

What scares me is that the Marlins appear to be playing well again, and guess who is next after the Orioles....gulp

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 26, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Here's something I wanted to share. The Nationals young starters have earned themselves a nice 3.42 ERA since 5-31. Very respectable for 4 rookies and a sophomore. Here's the kicker...if you remove the 2 duds by Stammen and Martis earlier this week...it drops to 2.85. The rotation is coming together folks...say what you will about the Manny, the bullpen, Stan and the Lerners...it is happening...and we are all witnessing it. I, for one, am very excited.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 26, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Nice, Traveler. Guess you could say that our starters "manned up."

Having once again been Bergmanned for the third time in three years, Smoltz has a hat trick from rookie Nats pitchers - Bergmann, Lannan, and Zimmermann.

Posted by: Traveler8 | June 26, 2009 9:12 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Naugatuck,

I won't argue about the rotation, I do think the future is bright there.

However, your it's "coming together" is a strech IMO. It will come together if the Lerner's spend some money in the offseason to try and fix some very weak spots on the roster. But, if they stick to the pattern of cheapness they have shown the last 3 offseasons. it ain't "happening" and that will be a shame.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

505,

That would be a shame, but I don't see them doing that. They have built a fantastic foundation and need only add to it. A few decent arms in the pen and this team is pushing .500. If you hadn't noticed...that would put them in contention for the division this year. We're not as far away as everyone wants to believe.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 26, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

As for Johnson, I got a similar injury about two years ago, and it lasted for about a month. Of course, it wasn't helped that it got infected and I had to receive an hour of antibiotics intraveneously for seven straight days. lol. But before the infection, the docs were all telling me about a week, week and a half before I'd be back to 100%.

I hope Johnson allows photos of his bare leg in a week, though. Basically what happens is that all the blood that's swelling up that bruise sinks down into your lower leg and foot. I looked like I had on a purple sock.

Posted by: Hokienautic | June 26, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree that there is a beginning here. The rotation looks like a nice base to add a Strasburg flavoured icing to.

The thing that makes me fear is that given that Zimm, Dukes and the young staff is the building block of this organization I feel like they should be surrounded by top quality defenders. While I believe that Dunn, has helped Zimm, enduring the rest of them is intolerable. These young pitchers need the confidence that good defense provides, in order to teach them to really attack the zone with all their pitchers.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

cokedispatch: "What scares me is that the Marlins appear to be playing well again, and guess who is next after the Orioles....gulp"

I see EBoni has descended back to Earth - batting .244, OPS around .540, three times as many K as BB, and, for all his speed, only two triples, the same number as Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns each have. And his 4 GIDP would put him 4th highest on the team if he were still with the Nats, a pretty amazing achievement for someone with so much speed batting leadoff.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 26, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Naugatuck,

You're obviously seeing something that the Lerner's have done in the past 3 offseasons that make you feel optimistic and I hope you are right.

Unfortunately, their track record does not show that. In fact, this past offseason with the slow down in the economy and the baseball economy was the perfect time to sign solid vets, and other than Dunn they took a pass.

That is very troubling to me. I fear that they will pee down their leg in the Strasburg negotiations and FA signing in the offseason.

Once again, I hope I'm very wrong here.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Nauganat, I like kool-aide as much as anyone, but we're not that close. We have two position players that are long term fits here (Zim and we hope Flores), and a bullpen that's still cobbled together with bailing wire.

It's great to have all the young arms coming up in the system, but there are way too many questions on this team otherwise to think we're close to anything good.

Posted by: joebleux | June 26, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I hope the rotation is that good. I am reminded, however, of a seven-start string in 2007 by Bergmann where he pitched 45 IP with a 2.18 ERA, 41K and 15BB, and we all thought he was a long-term piece of the rotation. Then he tanked.

Then, in '08, over four starts, he pitched 27IP, gave up 4 ER (for an ERA of 1.30), K'ed 30 and walked 6 - we were all saying that he "had figured it out," etc. Then he cratered.

So, I guess what I'm saying is hope for the best with these young guys, but expect trouble. It's way too early to say "it's coming together" - they show some promise and there's good reason for hope, but let's see them keep it up over the rest of the season and into next year. Give me 200IP like this, and I'll start to think that maybe it's coming together. Six starts each is not a lot to judge by.

And Flynnie, I love you man, but NJ's got to go, precisely because a contending team can't count on him as an everyday player. This isn't a case of being a farm team for other clubs - NJ's peak is almost over, he's the most tradeable piece this team has, and this team is going to lose 100 games this year - there's no reason to keep him, let alone sign him longer term.

And I totally second Brian's BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO on Stan's quote about international signings - they talk about the draft and international signings like it's half of the player payroll - Cut the international guys like $2m and let them go get the low-six-figure bonus guys. BOO.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 26, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Dang...you guys really know how to stomp out a positive outlook.
505 - who would you have liked them to sign? Was there anyone else really out there. We made a significant offer to Tex, and whether they knew he was unsignable or not...it's still a very positive sign to see the Lerners offering it. The only pitcher that I would have liked to see them get was Lowe...and he's been less than stellar the last month and a half...
Joe- Zimm and Flores (hopefully) are great, but Dukes is decent (in RF) and should only get better. If can learn how to steal that would help...I'm OK with Hernandez at 2B and I'm not ready to give up on Guzi or Nick J yet. Thier bats are the most consistant bats we've had in a long time. If we can get Maxwell to bat at this level and even sign another FA bat/glove...that only leave the pen...which has been improved of late, but still needs the most work. I'm not sayign were bound for the WS next year, but I don't think meaningful August/September ball is out of the question next year.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 26, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I know one thing, Clippard had better get some movement on that fastball or he'll be back in Syracuse pronto!

Posted by: dargregmag | June 26, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I still can not believe that Stan Kasten compared Manny Acta to Bobby Cox. To freakin Bobby Cox, one of the winningest coaches of all time with a world series title under his belt.
What has Acta done? Been mellow like Cox, according to Kasten? Are you kidding me?
This is the problem. Stank is completely delusional and is living in the past. The only thing Acta and Cox have in common is the amount of letters in their first name. This is not Georgia, We are not Atlanta and this isn't 1980. Stan Kasten is killing this team. He really doesn't get it.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Chico, or anyone: do we know what class of FA Nick would be? Would there be compensatory picks involved. If so, this seems like a version of the Soriano situation -- is what the other teams offer better than the pick compensation?

Posted by: Jeff_Jackson | June 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Great night at the park last night. I was surrounded by Boston fans in Section 311. They were loud in the beginning, but they got quieter as the evening wore on.

Good pitching still beats good hitting. The future will be brighter (maybe not bright enough for shades yet).

Posted by: NoVaSnow | June 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Rub a little dirt on it...

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 26, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Naugatuck,

Who should they have signed? How about D. Lowe, O. Hudson, K Rod, just to name a few.

Your probably thinking no way they come here. If they low ball them, you're right. But, with the baseball economy the way it was they could have made significantly higher offers to these guys than the Dodgers and Mets did and may have had a chance.

It's all about reputation. In the beginning they will have to pay more but, as they shake the reputation as a perennial losing, cheap franchise that will change.

As for Tex, and this is just my theory, they knew through Boras that they had no shot so, they went all out, to give that illusion that they are "free spenders" but, it failed miserably because, they went back to their cheapass ways by not signing anybody other than Dunn.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Could it not be that maybe they didn't sign a lot of free agents because Rizzo, Stan and the rest believe that the best way to lay a foundation is through strong drafts where you sign a lot of youngsters and bolster the farm before you start adding free agents.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

JJ, I'm just repeating what I've read in here, but I don't think the Nats get anything for Nick since he hasn't played much the past two years -- he'd have to be statistically in the top 40% at his position.

Posted by: joebleux | June 26, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

What about the SI sidebar suggesting that the Giants trade for Dunn? Do they have anyone of long-term value that we might be able to wedge away from them, then go for another slugging outfielder (a real outfielder) in the off-season? Of course, in this scenario we calculate that Dunn doesn't have much more upside than NJ, who we take off the market.

Posted by: homer6 | June 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"I am reminded, however, of a seven-start string in 2007 by Bergmann where he pitched 45 IP with a 2.18 ERA, 41K and 15BB, and we all thought he was a long-term piece of the rotation. Then he tanked."

Good point. I think the rebuttal would be that in those seven starts Bergmann never faced the sort of tough-luck or flat out sloppy starts that some of these young pitchers have. His problem has always been getting out of his head and into his arm. None of these five appear to have that problem.

Posted by: Section506 | June 26, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Could it not be that maybe they didn't sign a lot of free agents because Rizzo, Stan and the rest believe that the best way to lay a foundation is through strong drafts where you sign a lot of youngsters and bolster the farm before you start adding free agents."

This is a completely plausible explanation that explains everything, including how the decision-makers managed to get hired in the first place.

I've been thinking, we're so quick to assume that a smart or responsible person would succeed with this ball club, but maybe that's not true. In America, we like to believe anybody can do anything, but what if that's not true? What if, in a single year, there really are structural limitations on what one can do? It certainly would feel a lot more applicable to the world I live in.

Also in this category: firing Manny. We seem to believe that Kasten and the Lerners are choosing to fire or not fire Manny independent of any other team decision.

But couldn't a responsible owner be waiting to find out if he or she can line up a replacement that's trusted before firing the guy you have?

Posted by: Section506 | June 26, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

503,

I would have like to see Lowe and Hudson also, but other than that there was nobody? We made a push for O-dog, but didn't get him. Remember, in the situation we were in we would have needed to significanlty overpay what 'competing teams' offer. I don' remember us making a push for Lowe at the time, but I'm not all that broken up over it seeing what we have now and what lies waiting. There wasn't much out there for us this past winter...and what was there we made a move for. Tex didn;t work out so we grabbed Dunn. I'm confident that if the pieces are out there we will make a push for them.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 26, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

my bad...that last post should have been to 505...

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | June 26, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

home6. I can't find that link.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"Could it not be that maybe they didn't sign a lot of free agents because Rizzo, Stan and the rest believe that the best way to lay a foundation is through strong drafts where you sign a lot of youngsters and bolster the farm before you start adding free agents."
____________________________________________________________

I've never understood this argument. So while the farm system takes 3-5 years or more to develop the franchise and fans should just take it in the shorts and not sign any solid FA's?

Why can't you sign FA's to bridge the gap until the younger players are ready. Not only that, but, not every young guy that may appear ready pans out so, you still have to fill in the cracks with FA's.

This is a line that the used car salesman and the cheap owners have fed us as an excuse to be cheap.

Take the Red Sox and the Phillies for example. They spend on FA's and have solid minor league systems.

I think the 8th highest market equiped with a brand spanking new stadium and billion dollar owners can afford to be close to these two teams don't you?

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I think we're pretty close also to being pretty good. By stockpiling pitching, they will have a much wanted commodity in excess to pull of some good trades. It is going to happen.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 26, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Soundbloke, it's in this week's print edition, p. 31.

Posted by: homer6 | June 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I like the comparisons with Bergmann's flashes of excellence -- that remained flashes. I think Bergmann became victim to teams getting used to him after a couple looks and he didn't have the full repetoire to make his stuff last. I remember him getting hit during the 2nd or 3rd time through a lineup. It's what made me think/hope that he'd be good in long relief out of the pen.

I'm obviously hoping these young guns have the stuff to be effective long after they've had minor success due to novelty and obscurity! Shown double in interleague, but with (mostly) good results!

Posted by: mo_dc | June 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The reason I've always believed is that when you sign Lowe, Hudson or whoever, you lose draft picks. Zimermann was a compensatory pick for Soriano. Now, if Soriano doesn't improve that may look like some of the greatest business ever.

A successful draft is based on signing as many people as you can. No one expected Zimermann to be as good as he is, he just developed. So you get as many of these youngsers in as possible and exploit the years of team control to make your team a success. You also need a lot of young talent at the AAA/AAAA level in order to compete. Look at the Red Sox; last time they won the World Series they had two big injuries but, Ellsbury and Lowrey stepped up. So a farm adds depth as the season drags on. But given that injuries are random it again comes down to depth being a product of quantity of prospects.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, just to follow up.

The Sox and Phillies have built that system over years. And already had quality in the majors. The Nat's are trying to build both largely from scratch.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope Detiwiller gets credit for a win tonight. I think he has pitched much better than his 0-3 record. To me Detwiller stays in the rotation before Stammen or even Martis at this point. In fact, when Olsen returns, I'm thinking Stammen should go to the bullpen in long relief and Colome and his cologne can go to Syracuse.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 26, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, while still on the subject of NJ, anyone else think the plus of this (hopefully) minor injury is we have a chance to see Dunn at 1st for a bit longer? Well, at least except for the DH games against the O's. Why not try it out - he didn't look totally lost last night around the bag and is less of a liability than at LF.

Posted by: mo_dc | June 26, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

mo_dc: you know, I thought having Nick at first would help Zim with his throwing problems since he'd be more relaxed with Nick to cover his mistakes.

Maybe I'm imagining it, though, but I thought he actually looked more comfortable throwing to Dunn -- kind of like, OK, I'm not going to overthrow THAT target...

Posted by: joebleux | June 26, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey gang...well, it figures. I'm at work (nights)and miss the win. I'll work every night of the year if that's what it takes. Take heart-I'm going in now...in fact, the one night I got out early was vs. the Yanks in the 1st game of that series. In time to watch us loose.....and I can't remember the time when they won on a Sunday(I'm off.)Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | June 26, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Well gang what are we angry about today. Great game last night. 52 days till Strasburg deadline.

Clippard looks just like his time at NY and here last year. Awkward looking flyball pitcher who gives up too many homeruns. Give him a chance through the end of the year but I suspect he's AAAA. Don't trust the minor league stats the scouts don't (JD Martin, Seth Bynum).

Posted by: natsguy | June 26, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke,

But when you are as bad as we are right now you can sign FA's and not lose that 1st round pick because we are always in the top 10.

I don't remember the exact rule and I will reach out to Brian for clarification on this.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the surreal blogworld of Section505203, Naugatuck-Nats. He still thinks the Lerners should have signed Orlando Hudson after he failed a physical, competed with Mets money for Francisco Rodriguez when the Nats had a $180M+ deal on the table for Tex, that Derek Lowe had any interest in coming to Washington (plus there was a small $180M+ commitment on the table for Tex).

His sad, old line is that the Lerners need to spend their way out of everything rather than do what they are doing: rebuilding the ravaged farm system which was stripped clean by Jeffrey Loria in 2002 (at a time when the team designated for contraction.) Then from 2002-2006 MLB ownership then "ran" the club and I'm sure the Expos/Nationals had all the money they needed to sign top draft picks. And just back in May 2006 the Lerners were announced as owners - so in three years without their own TV rights this team is supposed to rebuild the scouting dept., draft MLB ready players, buy every high priced free agent on the market, pour tens of millions into a stadium they do not own to make it better for the fans, charge $2 for seats and make all the beer free....

I for one enjoyed reading your post. There is much call for optimism in NatsTown.

Signing Zimmerman, Olson, Willingham and Dunn, seeing results from our young starting pitching staff that all the opposing teams say are 'impressive' is simply not good enough for 505. He refuses to buy in to the ownership plan. He cuts and pastes 'Lerners are cheap' into every one of his posts.

I will concede however there was one free agent during the last three years I would have liked to have seen the Nats sign: Aaron Rowand. But he is the only one.

Posted by: dand187 | June 26, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

And additional thought on this:

If they were more into the International market they could make up for some of the lost picks for signing some Type A and B FA's

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

But by that logic 502203 we could not sign free agents, sign draft picks and wade heavy handedly into the international free agent market and soon we would have the Rangers of 90's Expos farm system.

Also it's not about losing quality of picks it's about losing quantity of picks. A successful draft requires a wide net be cast.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

dand187,

Thanks for turning a nice debate into a smartass snark fest.

The problem with your way is it ain't working so well. 59-102 and 21-49 prove my point in a neon sign like way.

The bottom five in payroll sign draft picks and international signings way isn't working.

Why? Because we don't sign 1st round picks and are flat out non-exsistent in the International market.

Are they some pieces here to build on? Yes, but no all will pan out. Then what?

How do you propose we fill some huge cracks in our 40 man roster and minor league system?

50 million payrolls doesn't cut it and our ML system ain't the Rays or Marlins yet, not even close.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Why do they HAVE to trade Nick? He is a solid piece of the puzzle and from what you can tell, the ultimate professional. If contending teams would want him, why wouldn't the Nats want to keep him? They trade Nick and what do they have to replace him. He will be around and productive in two years when the young pitchers develop into good professional pitchers. There are other guys you can trade - Willingham, Olson, Dukes, Milledge, even Kearns could be attractive to some organization looking for a solid fielding outfielder that has the potential to re-find his batting stroke - I just think Nick is the kind of guy a team needs. You trade Nick and you'll be looking for exactly the same type of first baseman in two years. Unless they have some sure-thing guy in the minors waiting to come up, you keep Nick. The outfield is really where they need work. I'd much rather see Willie Harris and a Bernadina or Maxwell in the outfield (along with Dunn)than anyone else they have right now.

Posted by: AsstGM | June 26, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Naugatuck, 505,

You both make great points. I agree with Naugie that this staff really shows promise and could be something special for a long time... particularly if the Strasburg deal gets done.

As for acquiring additional talent, 505, I think the Lerners are going to surprise you. But it's not time yet. The pieces are falling into place, but there's still a ways to go. FA signings are tough when you're as bad as we are; there's a matk-up in price that bad teams have tacked on to an FA offer. And trades are tough with a thin farm system.

But thew farm system is starting to flourish. Once we have sufficient organizational depth the time for trades and FA signings will come. Players will WANT to come here. If 2010 turns into a .500 season, 2011 will bring the trades and signings you want. But those trades/signings aren't foundation-building... they're finishing touches. Such as Hernandez and Carter for the mid-80s Mets, Maddux for the 90s Braves, O'Neill for the late-90s Yanks, and guys like Schilling for the Sox. Lots of home-grown talent with a few tough veterans sprinkled in. We're starting to see the home-grown talent now: Zimm and ZNN, Lannan, Detwiler, Flores. I think the Lerners will open their wallets... but not til that money can be well-spent.

Great discussion though, gents. Please go on. Good reading...

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I think you have to qualify 'it's not working' to 'it's not working yet'. Until early this season we were working with a franchise and a GM that were very much at odds with each other in terms of philosophy. The difference between Bowden and Rizzo drafts really demonstrate that. I'm not going to get into the Bowden good/evil debate but I think it is obvious that he was not on the same page as Stan from the beginning.

I understand your frustration but I think you have to view this season as a fresh start in terms of rebuilding strategy. And while we are a long way off, it is unthinkable that two years ago we could have lost three pitchers, and called up three youngsters who have performed like Detweiler, Stamen and Zimmermann have and hopefully will continue to for some time. Especially when you consider that that Lannan and Martis are also so young and Olson coming off the DL is very young too.

Like I say, we may not get there but think of this as a fresh page and you may at least enjoy the games watching some of the promising signs and believing that next year these positives will be built on, unlike years gone by. Not a shot at you, just advice to help preserve your sanity. I may disagree with a lot of your points but I think we can keep discussing them without it turning nasty. Just don't tell dand187.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The protection is that a team can't lose one of the first 10 picks, instead you lose the 2nd rounder. I think the FA loser also get a sandwich pick between the second and third rounds? (not sure)

Posted by: swang30 | June 26, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I think you have to trade Nick because you actually can't rely on him to around for another two years. Not consistently. A team with the Yankees depth can carry an injury risk because they have replacement pieces. Right now we don't have that durability becomes more valuable.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 26, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I say trade Nick at the deadline if he's got any value still, then try to re-sign him in the off-season to a deal basedon ABs. If he stays healthy he'll hit and play good defense. So if he can stay off the DL he'll get paid!!

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Section505203 is nothing but a Johnny One-Note, and sadly his one note is even more out of tune than that guy doing the Jimi Hendrix imitation on the anthem last night. I'm amazed that anyone is even paying attention to Section505203 around here any more. If you've read one of his comments, you've read 'em all. The only thing he ever varies are the potty references. One day it's poop, the next day it's pee. Maybe his one note is really a flush.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 26, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Knock it off, you two. Don't make me come down there.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Chico, or anyone: do we know what class of FA Nick would be? Would there be compensatory picks involved. If so, this seems like a version of the Soriano situation -- is what the other teams offer better than the pick compensation?

"Posted by: Jeff_Jackson | June 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse"
-----------------------------

The Elias formula for rating ballplayers by free agent type was pretty well deciphered by a blogger for the Tigers a few years ago. His list is now on MLBTR. As of his last update, Nick was a low type B, meaning he could fall off were he to have an extended injury or drop in performance. I swapped emails with the guy, and he said that he could move higher once more marginal guys play a bit at first, DH, or outfield.

So, for now, Nick is thought to be a Type B.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

They really DON'T have to trade Johnson. If anything Dunn is more of a liability because of his fielding, yet makes much better trade bait.

Makes no sense to trade the guy. If he can recover and keep playing they are set on the corners. They just need to work on the middle infield and the outfield.

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Man, this is going to be a busy offseason. If I have this right (always a 50/50 proposition at best), we have the following players signed for 2010: Dunn, Guz, Zim, Harris. That's it; that's the list (other than a handful of club/player options).

List of contracts here:

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/washington-nationals_01.html

Posted by: joebleux | June 26, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Thar she blows! The arrogance of everyone's favorite mulitple monikered bloviating buddy, Nunof1, ABM, Section417, etc.

Why don't you dazzle us all with another sick joke about the cracked skull of Nick Johnson's young child?

Your a real peach yourself there, fella.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Soundbloke and Outsider,

Good points. I don't agree with all of them but, good points nontheless.

I especially like the points about a fresh start with Jimbo gone and our rotation being a little deeper and that a injury or two won't kill us.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Natsguy, JD Martin is the best pitcher production-wise of all pitcher including the major league ones this year. Acta himself said that if someone proves through production they should get a chance they he would provide it. Well JD Martin has ... better than anyone else.

Scouts? Why in bejesus would they even bother with Matt Chico? Yet another of your Tommy John's types? His only distinguishing attribute is that he is a left-hander. I hear lots of minor league "scouts" and experts jawing about him a lot around here. Well, he hasn't produced. Not really. Martin has.

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Periculum: don't you think Johnson's lengthy injury history makes him a very risky signing when his contract expires at the end of the year? I agree he's a solid corner guy with a superb eye and good stick but unless we're planning to re-sign him to an incentive-laden contract, why miss out on trading him for some prospects?

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Resign Nick Johnson, Bring the pitchers up, sign Strasberg and a few choice free agents next year to fill in the gaps.

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I've always argued they should keep the team interesting, while rebuilding, and that means signing a few overpriced free agents who aren't part of The Plan, except insofar as they bridge the gap 'til then--which may be a long way off. One can find fault with any given free agent someone proposes, and indeed sometimes they won't pan out, but if you don't go all Albert Belle, that's OK.
Orlando Hudson (a forty-third!!round draft pick out of HS, btw) failed the Nats' physical, and it's pretty risky to sign a guy for the kind of money he'd take, after that, but the Dodgers don't seem to be complaining too much. Maybe Torii Hunter was just being polite in letting the Nats talk about making an offer, maybe not, I don't know, and I don't think he's said, so nobody else knows, either. There were others. (And yeah, I wanted Livo, too, but in hindsight, I'd rather the Mets had him.)
The Nats would have to have a much bigger payroll to do that, sure, but as has been noted, they can afford it. Clearly, if Willie Harris is their best CF (and he is), Torii Hunter would not be blocking anyone there; and anyway, it's not like he plays 162 games a year. And a couple of years of drawing 15K will put a serious dent in your budget, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Outsider6,

Normally, that might make sense. The problem is they haven't won enough games to do that yet, IMHO. They need to achieve some respectability. Trading for prospects only makes sense if the prospect is a centerfielder who is ready to come up, and can field and hit.

Johnson fields and hits and walks. Dunn hits, prodigiously at times, and he walks. He does not field. He appears to be more of a liability in the field than Johnson. He also seems like better trade bait for an American league franchise like Boston who can put him at DH. Is that guy Rocco Baldelli any good?

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I like NJ, it seems he is a quiet leader and well respected but, his injury history and severe lack of power are troubling enough to make him someone that should be traded for whatever we can get.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Why do they HAVE to trade Nick? "
-----------------------------
Nick is like an expiring dairy product.

Start with the basics - his contract expires at the end of this year. right now, he looks like a Type B free agent. In order to receive compensation for a Type B free agent, you must offer arbitration, he must decline, and he must sign with another team before the draft. The compensation you receive for a Type B free agent is a supplemental draft choice between the first and second rounds. It does not come out the signing team's hide, therefore it is not a significant disincentive to signing him.

There's a decent change that, if Nick is healthy, we would not want to offer him aribtration. Nick made $5m this year. Arbitration inevitably results in a bump up in salary. There are a number of good OF/1B/DHs who look like they may be free agents. We would have to assess whether we could use the glut to sign one for less than what Nick would want (multi years) or could get in arbitration.

If Nick actually hit the free agent market (was offered and declined arbitration), the chance of retaining him for a reasonable amount diminishes a lot.

We have at least two possible first basemen already on the 25 man roster or under team control for next year - Dunn and Willingham. One of our top position prospects in the minors, Chris Marrero, is a first baseman who could be ready for the majors after next year. If he is not, then we can keep Willingham (not eligible for FA) or try to resign Dunn. Keeping Nick next year perpetuates the 1B/LF log jam.

Trade Johnson before the trade deadline to a contender who is looking for a stretch drive 1B/DH, and you could reasonably expect a return similar to what the Rays got in 2006 for Aubrey Huff (Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbott) or in 2007 for Ty Wigginton (Dan Wheeler).

To get back to the expiring milk analogy, you hold Nick too long, you can get nothing but a stinking mess. And this is before accouting for the injury risk.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's fielding is big reason the Nats lost this series to Boston. At best, at this point, his hitting barely offsets his fielding mistakes.

Perhaps you can get better prospects for Dunn?

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

OK, I've been quiet here for a while, but it's a slow day at work, so here goes.

1) signing "available talent" to make the team watchable is not necessarily a bad idea. But last year we did that and got LoDuca and the other stiffs. At least in '06 we got Batista, who stunk but he was dirt-cheap and was a passable bench guy. (IIRC he pinch hit well enough to keep the rallies going in the late innings.)

2) rebuilding (or building) sucks. This team's state was worse than an expansion team when it got here. The minors had been purged of talent, the draft picks were all made on signability, etc. It was bad. And fixing that takes a long time.
That also means that you're going to spend some time evaluating dumpster-diving. Milledge sure looked like the real deal for a few weeks. Dukes still does at times.

3) Sure, the Red Sox spent $5 million on Smoltz as a, what, 7th starter? Must be nice. However, they also have a couple starters making 300K, and have a few more in AAA. And most of their bullpen is really cheap too, because they drafted them or picked them up cheap. They're good because they're efficient with their money and have plenty of it, and have been pouring money into the farm system for years.

4) Where I'm *really* worried is the comment that Kasten made yesterday, saying, in essence, "we're not going to put real money into the Dominican operations this year because Strasburg's going to take up too much of the budget."

That's being foolish. Utterly stupid. Think of the NJ, Kearns, DaMeat, and Cabrera contracts coming off the books. That $15M buys you a WHOLE WHOLE LOT of dominican possibilities. Like 30+ of them. If just one of them hits .200, or has an ERA under 8, you've improved on 3 of the 4 guys I mentioned above.

And that's where I get worried. if that's the way they're thinking, the ceiling for the team's performance just got a lot lower.

Oh, and another thing about Kasten -- Nats Park is nowhere near the best ballpark in the game. Kauffman is the most gorgeous architecture I've ever seen with seats. The air at Fenway is like nothing you've ever seen. St. Louis is utterly nutso for their team. Nats park has the bulleted list of things that any half-brained cretin can say needs to be there -- curly fries, high-margin beers, loud music, big signs telling you when to cheer, and plenty of bathrooms. That's great if you want a park full of half-brained cretins.

But don't expect those cretins to show up and sell out your playoff games. Witness Atlanta.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Neither Willingham or Dunn can field. There lack of fielding prowess is not offset by their hitting.
Nick is a complete plus in all phases.

Posted by: periculum | June 26, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Rizzo can trade Nick for some prospect and then re-sign him this off-season? No reason to expect NJ to be part of anyone else's 2-3 year plan because of his injury history and we have a built in backup with Dunn able to play 1B.

Marrero doesn't seem to be hitting for power in High-A and our other internal options at 1B aren't good so why not try to buy up 2 years of Nick, if we don't trade him we might even get a decent "home team discount" which will probably amount to a 2 year 5 mil/year extension, maybe a bit less guaranteed with tons of games played incentives...

Next question, with Olsen back (Why?!?) who goes back to SYR? From most to least likely;

1. Stammen
2. Martis
3. Colome (Olsen to Pen, just a thought)

Posted by: estuartj | June 26, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Periculum: I'd love to see NJ re-signed... but you didn't address my question. Don't you think he's a risk? Someone's already mentioned he's just a Type B FA. If we DON'T trade him we get very little if/when he signs elsewhere. Why not trade him now? We can still try to re-sign him as he'll be an FA after the season. Then we have NJ and some prospects.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Rocco is fantastic, except he has channelopathy, a disorder that makes him fatigue quickly. He cannot play in the OF for two days in a row. he is often substituted for in mid game. Sad, because he is a wonderful person and was a gifted athlete.

You may have the right team in mind. There's been off and on talk about the Red Sox interest in Johnson. First it was when Ortiz was not going well. Now it looks like Mike Lowell's hip is deteriorating again. Nick could play first while Youk plays 3d.

Going back to the comparable trades, you could see why Delcarmen's name was floated. roughly comparable to Wheeler. Just entering his first year of arb in 2010.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I can't see Dunn bringing better prospects than Johnson, though I could see Boston looking for help at DH with Ortiz struggling. The biggest reason I think Johnson has greater value -- in addition to Periculum's observations that he's a far more complete player -- is that Dunn will $10M next year in addition to a pro-rated portion of that in 2009. Nick's cost is fractional by comparison and there's no 2009 commitment.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to re-sign Nick, because I don't think the odds of getting anyone better are even money, but here's the thing: even if they do re-sign him, they need someone else at first, either with or instead of Nick, because he won't play 140 games, plus several other someone elses at other positions. Why not just get the someone else at first who probably plays most days (no guarantees in baseball), and get what they can, while they can, IF they can, for Nick, and let the poor man go win something once in his life before he retires.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

406, good to see you back. I would only quibble that LoDuca etc. weren't the "available talent"--they were the available cheap borderline talent. There's a big difference.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The old Nick was a very good defensive player. The Nick of the past few months and last year less so. Small sample size, perhaps, but you've got to go with your eyes. Dunn looks bad at first, but it is not a premium defensive position. Willingham probably could learn the position, if you believe Boz (and on this one, I trust him a bit).

Because most of the AL contenders have DHs, and because of the glut on the market next year in DH types, I do not think there would be a great market for Dunn, who midway through this year would be ower another $16 million for a year and a half.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey, what time do lineups come out around here?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Periculum

I think you said the same things about Clippard and look what we got last night.

Posted by: natsguy | June 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Also in this category: firing Manny. We seem to believe that Kasten and the >Lerners are choosing to fire or not fire Manny independent of any other team decision.

But couldn't a responsible owner be waiting to find out if he or she can line up a replacement that's trusted before firing the guy you have?

He's still here. Doesn't matter what the excuse is. The longer he stays, the more incompetent Stank becomes. That's just the way it is. hoo hoo 21-49 suck on it and like it baybee

Posted by: Brue | June 26, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh, c'mon Natsguy. It was one appearance! Give the kid a chance!

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's contract was $8m this year and $12m next, per cots. Nick is more than $13m cheaper in obligations to an acquiring team.

Ortiz *was* struggling. forthe month of June, he is hitting .310 / .388 / .672, with 6 home runs in 67 PAs.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Where is the "Reading List?" I want to see the NE press reaction to "the inexcusable" loss to the "woebegone" Nationals, esp. Kilgore's column (if any).

So how come it took you all a whole season and a half to dis the Park? Uh, because it is a great Park!! Some of you are so around the bend that If Stan (the man with a plan that is still intact) says white, you'all say black, he says East, you say West, etc. etc. Cut down on the beer the better to ejoy the game

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | June 26, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

>4) Where I'm *really* worried is the comment that Kasten made yesterday, saying, in essence, "we're not going to put real money into the Dominican operations this year because Strasburg's going to take up too much of the budget."

That's being foolish. Utterly stupid.

Stan's a bean counter. You have to figure a five-foot-nothing lawyer never played enough ball to really understand it. He keeps telling us it's all about money, but we don't want to believe him.

But that's what he's doing.

Posted by: Brue | June 26, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Nats Park is very nice facility. Is it PNC Park or AT&T? No. But I enjoy the park very much. I think comparing an old park like Fenway or Wrigley to a new one is not really an apples to apples comparison.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

cracked me up biscuits:


"Rub a little dirt on it..."

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 26, 2009 11:20 AM |

Posted by: NatsNut | June 26, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I always find the statements about Nick's "fragility" a bit hard to follow.

dude broke his leg one year.

thats not like lingering issues with elbows, joints, back issues etc. constant, recurring issues.

yes, I know he has had other issues.

torn tendon sheath I would tend to put in a category with the broken leg - freak one time injury.

ballplayers get hit by pitches all the time. sometimes they are out a few days. thats baseball. not "fragility"

now, boswell has stated a different point, nick sometimes plays like he's a younger, fitter guy (running full blast in certain situations, e.g.) that may be a valid point.

he is having a very good year, and I love it!

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | June 26, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

malcom, your naivete is kinda cute.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 26, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey 502 - I attended games at Fenway regularly back in the day, and you are right that comparing it to NatsPark is not an apples to apples comparison, because Fenway was built to seat the behinds of an apple-eating populace, not the nacho-cheese-whizz-Clydesdale sized Great american Cans of the Modern Fan. Phil Wood, who's a tall guy, told me that Fenway is great if you're a double amputee. Speaking of Clydesdale-sized behinds, Pujols has not been re-signed by the Cardinals, and should be available with a juicer discount when the remaining 104 names are revealed. Did LaRussa ever manage a big man who didn't juice? Does anyone look like Pujols, or any other Marvel Comics character,thanks to a healthful Carribean diet?

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"So how come it took you all a whole season and a half to dis the Park? Uh, because it is a great Park!! Some of you are so around the bend that If Stan says white, you'all say black, etc. etc. Cut down on the beer the better to ejoy the game"

----

Well, i went about 20 times last year and hated it. It's truly uninspiring. Seriously, go to Fenway once and you'll see what I'm talking about.

It's like they don't "get it", so they look at what's successful in other places and mimic it here. Sweet Caroline (boston),amazingly loud AC/DC (cleveland), organ music (LA, KC, NYC), Clint (Hell), president races (milwaukee), a bird mascot (baltimore). All the while the place not only has no character (it's new after all) but it seems that they're floundering around so much to have canned character that they don't have any chance to make their own character.

And really.. when Jewish owners screw up the Kosher food vendors, that's a bad sign. (And no, that's not anti-semetic. I'm just saying that if ANYONE could be expected to care enough to get that right, it'd be Jews. It's like the Saudi Embassy getting the Halal meat wrong, or Whole Foods screwing up the tofu.)

And the Natinals thing, the misspelled bobbleheads, the rent fiasco, Smiley Gonzales thing.. if I were running this business, the phrase "we look like monkey f***ing a football" would probably start the staff meeting. I mean, come on. That's a track record of incompetence that would make Dubya blush.

Sure, there's great kids in the minors. And some of them will make it here, and the rotation shows real promise. I'm not going to doubt that. And it looks like we stumbled on a great find in Flores, and Dukes still has real promise. That's great. But really, if someone who worked for you made the mistakes, the high-profile ones, they've made, would you want them to keep working for you? And yeah, THAT is why it took me a year and a half to swear this park off. I gave them a lot of time at RFK (STH since '05, we started the "let's go new guy" cheer if it sounds familiar) and said "when they get the new park, it'll all be better." It's not. It's just more expensive. And frankly, I can't believe I waited 35 years for this.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

406, I didn't even get to the rest of the post, choking on my water laughing:

"..Sweet Caroline (boston) amazingly loud AC/DC (cleveland) organ music (LA, KC, NYC) *Clint (Hell)*

Posted by: NatsNut | June 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"406, good to see you back. I would only quibble that LoDuca etc. weren't the "available talent"--they were the available cheap borderline talent. There's a big difference."

Well, actually, I think LoDuca was one of the best catchers available at the time. that's the sad part. And that's what makes most free agents a terrible deal -- if they're any good, they're signed up by their home team while they're still in arbitration, or they're the really-big-ticket superstars. They'd have been better off picking up Bard or one of the other 15 "career backup catchers" that have been floating around for 10 years.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

> Nick is like an expiring dairy product.

Aren't we all? Except of course for the ones who've already expired, that is. I'll not name names. They know who they are, even if they refuse to admit it.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 26, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

And as for Fenway.. it's not the creature comforts. The seats suck and there's no bathrooms. But everyone there is *SO* passionate about the game. It's like a college basketball game but it's nice out. (Well, sometimes. It's boston after all.)

And that's what I'm saying -- when you go to a game at fenway, you feel excited to be part of this crowd to watch a team that they're certifiably insane about. Everyone there cares about every single game. They're all BASEBALL FANS. And when you build your park like a shopping mall, you get shopping mall fans. And shopping malls don't sell out in October.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Stan's a bean counter. You have to figure a five-foot-nothing lawyer never played enough ball to really understand it. He keeps telling us it's all about money, but we don't want to believe him."

Well, that's the part that makes no sense. If you're a bean counter, surely you can see the folly in saving upfront money when it can save you so much money on the back end. Unless he's being 100% cynical and trying to field a 50-win team on absolute minimum salaries and make it up with revenue sharing. But in a rich town with a free park, that's stupid too. And he wouldn't get Strasburg, he'd sign that SS from UNC.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

406: I think the 100,000 Redskin fans at Fedex Mall, er, Field would beg to disagree. DC fans can sell out regular season or playoff games! Fans will go to any old stadium when their team is worthy.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 26, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie,

Geat Post. You had me laughin' because it is oh so true.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I feel I need to jump in on the FA signings ramblings. They signed Dunn and only Dunn because all of the other FA's would have required they give up Draft Picks, and that would have screwed with the best part of the "Plan" - of which I agree. I think if there is another good FA this offseason that doesn't require them to give up a Draft pick they will go for it.

Posted by: anyone1 | June 26, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This thread is taking it on the shin... at least give us a new thread!

Posted by: 1of9000 | June 26, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, thank you 502. As the Owner of a Great American Can which has only gotten greater since my departure from the Hub City, I am grateful for not being in physical agony for 9 innings - but maybe that's just me. Will somebody over at Justice who is reading this PLEASE release the test on Pujols? I gotta get me somma dat, but I don't know who to get it from - the pharmacist or the local jerk chicken joint.

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie,

I've seen a few games at Fenway myself over the years.

I remember 1 game about 10 years ago, I sat down by Pesky's pole and my neck was shot by the end of the game because I was constantly looking to my left.

They also didn't angle the seats toward home plate back then like they do now.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 26, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It's a bit unfair to knock the job Clippard did last night. He had an 8-run lead and his job was to throw strikes, which he did. He went two innings and gave the rest of the pen the night off. It's inconsequential in that situation that Baldelli hit one out.

BTW, not may guys wear glasses on the field these days. I don't remember him wearing them last year.

Posted by: nats24 | June 26, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that Nats Park is comfortable if sterile. And there are systemic reasons why the same spirit would be difficult to duplicate here (transients, come-lately types with loyalties elsewhere, etc.). But one huge difference that gets downplayed is this: In places like Boston, fanaticism gets passed down from generation to generation. In D.C., an entire generation-and-a-half (I'm referring to lifers here) came of age never having a home team to root for. Anybody younger than late 30s/early 40s never got taken to home games by their dads or would have been old enough to remember it. Even if the Senators had inspired devotion (a succession of care-nothing owners took care of that), it still would have gotten cleansed from the DNA. Given the other factors mentioned and the team's retreat from credibility since '05, anything resembling mass loyalty will take more time and visible progress to achieve. I believe, though, that if the Nats ever started playing in Oct., they could sell out any shopping mall in the region. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue to go to the Park from April thru Sept.

Posted by: homer6 | June 26, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't do the armchair GM thing but it was great to see Rocco in the game the other day. His was an inspiring story last year as the Rays made their run. I was happy to see that given proper treatment he is still able to play some.

---

Rocco is fantastic, except he has channelopathy, a disorder that makes him fatigue quickly. He cannot play in the OF for two days in a row. he is often substituted for in mid game. Sad, because he is a wonderful person and was a gifted athlete.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 1:50 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

> They also didn't angle the seats toward home plate back then like they do now

They didn't do it in Camden Yards either.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 26, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

But don't expect those cretins to show up and sell out your playoff games. Witness Atlanta.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 1:43 PM

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Give me a dozen or so years of consistently making the playoffs and maybe I'll get tired of having to lug my mitt and butt down to half street and deal with the 41k people uh-gain just to cheer for the g'd'mmned nats. Yeah, let's revisit this conversation then. ;)

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 26, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

also: glad to see you back (and mantaining the old form) Flynnie!

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 26, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I like the comment about NJ being one of the "quiet leaders" on the team. Yep, we;ve got 24 players who are quiet leaders (Villone seems to be the exception), and then a coaching staff and and a manager who provide us with even more of that good ol' quiet leadership. Yessir, this solid quiet leadership and "playing the game the right way," as Zim says (I wonder whether he noticed that the Red Sox seem to play the game a different right way) are leading us to a very respectable 48 wins this year.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 26, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of NJ (and lineups), new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, IHW! What's that I see? A Gnu Post!

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

hehe, you owe me a coke, Flynnie.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

new post, but:

"And that's what I'm saying -- when you go to a game at fenway, you feel excited to be part of this crowd to watch a team that they're certifiably insane about. Everyone there cares about every single game. They're all BASEBALL FANS. And when you build your park like a shopping mall, you get shopping mall fans. And shopping malls don't sell out in October.

Posted by: Section406 | June 26, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse "
--------------------
We'll soon drop discussions of this past 3 game series, and stop taking / giving offense to RSN and Natstown!, who had more pink hatted fans (see below), etc . . . But the one nice thing even last night was there was just more of a buzz in the place than when <20K show up. A full ballpark is better than one 1/3 full. The Nats fans who were there, whether 20K or 10K, were motivated / provoked to make noise, even if it was counternoise on occasion. There were plenty of cheers for Zimmermann, Willie, and AH. If it take a little back and forth with a visiting nation, it sure beats concrete, library voices, and only cheer when the sound system tells us to that happens too often. The place sounded like a ballpark.

BTW - I finally saw 2 pink hats with Bs in my section last night. Had seen lots of green Bs, but most of the pink, even last night, had Ws.

The two Bs were on sisters who could not have been 10 years old - they obviously are front running fans who started following the team no earlier than Manny Ramirez's signing, and probably not until 2004!

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

> Nick is like an expiring dairy product.

Aren't we all? Except of course for the ones who've already expired, that is. I'll not name names. They know who they are, even if they refuse to admit it.

Speak for yourself, buoy

Posted by: Brue | June 26, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Brue, Nunof1 - read the darn post and maybe you'll get it. There's an expiration date to his value, and after that, he's not going to be worth anything. Do yourself a favor - think twice before you hit submit.

"To get back to the expiring milk analogy, you hold Nick too long, you can get nothing but a stinking mess. "

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 26, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

My heart sank when I saw the line on Nick Johnson in the Nats' 8th inning box score Wednesday night. AB 0, R 1, H 0, BB 0. That meant Nick was hurt, early. My thoughts raced back to September '06 when Nick had that collision with Kearns and missed an entire season. Such a fine player, such lousy luck. His game has no weaknesses. He knows the strike zone and knows when he can take the extra base. I've never seen him get thrown out at third or home. I was relieved to see him back in the lineup yesterday. Do the Nats really have to trade him away? I assume they will. For his sake, I hope he gets to show his stuff in the World Series.
George Gedda, author, "The Dominican Connection."

Posted by: ggedda | June 27, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

ggedda - I'm a huge fan of Nick, too. That's why when I posted I did not even factor in the injury history when I strongly suggested that the time is expiring for addressing his situation. I would not object to a 1 yr + an option deal done over the next two weeks. But we should get something for him rather than let him walk away, and his value in trade and to this team will never be higher thanit will be over the next month.

He's been to the WS once, I think, in 2003 (or was the Vazquez trade down the stretch?). He'll have a decent shot with a few other teams this year, if the Nats play their cards right.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 27, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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